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Rainbow Alliance calls on new PLP leader to clarify stance on Human Rights amendment

The Rainbow Alliance has asked new Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean where he stands on amending the Human Rights Act to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The campaign group expressed concern over previous comments of Mr Bean's that, they allege, “contain insensitivity and latent homophobia”.

They group went on to remind the new Opposition Leader of his “responsibility to move Bermuda forward”.

The Rainbow Alliance is committed to seeking social acceptance, legislative protection, and equality for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community and their allies.

In a statement yesterday, they said: “The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like to congratulate the One Bermuda Alliance on their victory in the recent election and praise the Progressive Labour Party for being gracious in their defeat.

“We hope that both parties will be able to work together to address the issues facing Bermudians.”

The group pointed out: “Both parties expressed willingness to amend the Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation during their pre-election campaigning.

“LGBTQ people are disadvantaged under the current status quo, and this must be addressed. We now implore the current government to follow through with these promises and create legislative change.”

The statement went on to quote remarks attributed to Mr Bean — who describes himself as heterosexual — during a Parliamentary debate on a proposed Equality Act in July 2012.

“Mr Bean has previously gone on record with his derogatory personal opinions of the LGBTQ community, stating 'tolerance does not equate of acceptance of behaviour.'

“He also stated that as a home-owner, he does not believe he should have to rent to a homosexual if he disapproves of their lifestyle and that they should instead buy their own homes.”

The group went on to quote Mr Bean's remark that: “'In other words, gay people can go and buy a mansion, and they could have the biggest rainbow circle of gay parties and 'basements' on their property.”

According to the Rainbow Alliance: “These words contain the insensitivity and latent homophobia that the Rainbow Alliance was created to combat on the Island.

“To have them come from the leader of the opposition party threatens to legitimise his views in the eyes of the public, and undo any progress Bermuda has made towards joining the rest of the modern world's tolerance and respect for the LGTBQ community.

“The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like Marc Bean and the opposition PLP to clarify their position on the amendment to the Human Rights Act, or the bringing forth of a new legislation to protect all the people of Bermuda, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“As Opposition party leader, Mr Bean's personal opinions may hold great sway over the PLP's position on this and other LGBTQ equality issues going forward.

“He holds the responsibility for helping move Bermuda forward, and we hope that he will help stem the unacceptable negative public opinion of the LGBTQ community.

“We look forward to a response from Mr Bean and the PLP, and hope to gain them as allies going forward.

“We would also like to encourage Mr Bean and any other unsure politicians or members of the public to reach out to groups like ours and familiarise themselves with the very real social injustices perpetrated against the LGBTQ community in Bermuda.”

Attempts to reach Mr Bean for comment, and to get the One Bermuda Alliance Government to comment, proved unsuccessful by press time.

The group Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB) also issued a brief statement yesterday, marking the change in PLP leadership.

It said: “CURB would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Marc Bean on his election as Leader of the Progressive Labour Party.

“It is CURB's endeavour to foster a collaborative relationship with the Opposition, and with the new government, as both have placed the unity of our people high on the social agenda.

“Last year, on a take-note debate on truth and reconciliation, all three parties at the time pointed to CURB as the conduit through which this can happen. We are ready to take on this role.”

Useful websites: www.rainbowbermuda.org, www.uprootingracism.org.

Marc Bean

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Published January 04, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 04, 2013 at 8:47 am)

Rainbow Alliance calls on new PLP leader to clarify stance on Human Rights amendment

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